NEW MEXICO/TEXAS (KRQE) – Two pilots from a gas balloon team from Poland are in the hospital this afternoon after their balloon crashed into a powerline in Crandall, Texas, southeast of Dallas. They were flying in the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race, which launched from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on Saturday.
Krzysztof Zapart and Piotr Halas were the first team to take off from the field Saturday night.
“Both pilots sustained injuries and were transported to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Zapart, the lead pilot, sustained cuts and burns to his legs and arms. Mr. Halas is being treated for burns and broken bones to his legs and midsection,” stated Tom Garrity, director of media relations for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Garrity said the team traveled eastward from Albuquerque and caught winds that angled them toward the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The team was flying at 12,000 feet over Dallas airspace.
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Officials said the balloon’s tracking device showed they stopped moving around 7:25 Monday night. New video shows the fireball going up into the air as the hydrogen gas balloon went down and into the powerline.
Officials recalled the moments after the news reached them as tense.
“Krzysztof and Piotr are adventurous people and long-time balloonists who well understand these risks. They would not wish this incident to distract and draw attention from competition still going underway and wish to the teams to continue and achieve the furthest distance and a safe landing,” stated Tomas Hora, event director.
Authorities stated weather and visibility were good that day, and they don’t know what caused the balloon to crash and hope to learn more from the pilots when they have a chance to meet with them.
Both pilots are expected to make a full recovery. The lead pilot is even expected to be released from the hospital on Tuesday or Wednesday.